PS... A Column

on Things

By Paul E. Schindler Jr.

Some things are impossible to know, but it is impossible to know these things.

I have a day job. So every word of this is my opinion, not that of my employer. This offer IS void in Wisconsin. Except, of course, that some material in this column comes from incoming e-mail; such material is usually reproduced in the Sans Serif type font to distinguish it from the (somewhat) original material.


To Pay For This Column Voluntarily
Tales of Teaching 2004
Tales of Teaching 2005

February 21, 2005: P.S. A Column On Things

February 21, 2005 Vol. 7, No. 7

Table of Contents:

General News

  • Rolling Along
  • Political Notes

Computer Industry News

  • Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs
  • Click Fraud
  • Communications News

Humor

  • The Top 16 Valentine's Day Romance Tips
  • The Top 18 Signs Your Mechanic Is Losing It

Movies

  • None

Letters

  • Carroll Cat Column, Special Effects Insider, SuperBowl Commercials, Dan Grobstein File

General News

Rolling Along

Still having trouble focusing on my online course, required if I am to clear my credential. But I got my mid-year evaluation from both my principal and the new-teacher BTSA program, and I am looking, if I do say so myself, pretty good. And, my heart arrhythmia is completely gone. Now if I could just make about 100 pounds be gone...

Political Notes

Believe it or not, I went to MIT with, and worked on The Tech with, the single largest contributor to the Democratic party during the 2000 election cycle, Steve Kirsch. Every Democratic candidate should read and heed his simple political guideline. A bracing tonic for those of us who feel, as did Will Rogers, that "I belong to no organized political party; I'm a Democrat."

***

How long (how many lives) will it take for the country and its elected representatives to realize that by creating a National Intelligence Director they added a layer of bureaucracy, decreased national security, and avoided the issue of whether the people are going to get a reasonable return on the roughly $40 billion of their money which goes for "intelligence" every year? Not to mention that the Director of Central Intelligence was supposed to be this person since the late 1940s, and the man selected for the job has a human rights record that stinks--just what America and this administration need.

***

The " juggling Oreo cookies " video about the federal budget is now at:
http://www.e-tractions.com/truemajority/run/oreo?rd=436
(via http://www.truemajorityaction.org/site/pp.asp?c=jvLUJdP8H&b=315914
via http://www.truemajorityaction.org/ in case those other URLs are session-dependent.

Computer Industry News

Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs

ChoicePoint fiasco: widely derided as a private sector spy agency, ChoicePoint was hoist by its own petard this week. The company that spends so much time accumulating dossiers of confidential information on private citizens, failed to do a through background check on the slime-ball identity thieves that came posing as a legitimate business: Database giant gives access to fake firms. This is a perfect example of why they should not exist.

Nukes hot again: as a kid growing up in the 1960s, I heard my father repeat the power company's line that nuclear generation of electricity would be so efficient that the power would be "too cheap to meter". (Hmm, were they naive, or just pushing for flat monthly billing?) There has been a long nuclear winter in the power industry, but things seem to be changing. A Massachusetts newspaper reports on the Bush administration's new enthusiasm for nuclear power: Oil crisis fuels nuclear 'buzz'. Also contributing to worldwide interest in nuclear power is a relatively new technology called pebble bed which promises a much safer plant design. Recent pebble bed news: China in bid to develop pebble bed reactor and BNFL in talks with Washington for new $500m nuclear reactor.

Flickr Gate: the photo sharing site Flickr keeps popping up in surprising contexts. Previously I mentioned Krazydad's tool to select images from Flickr groups by color. Here is another cool gadget that shows social networks of Flickr users. Flickr lets you search for any user-assigned tag, for instance I like flocks (I particularly liked this and this). Recently I saw several links to a Flickr tag search on "thegates" as a visual summary of the new installation in Central Park. (Speaking of which: see them in QuickTime VR and via satellite (large JPEG))

SHA-1 broken: the lynchpin cryptographic hashfunction SHA-1 has been broken. A readable account of what that means can be found in the article from last August: SHA-1 Break Rumored.

Technobits: Life on Mars, today?! --- Judge Critical of SCO in IBM Case --- Silicon Insider: R.I.P. Microsoft? --- animal sounds and snowflakes --- Hello Kitty Crop circle.

Click Fraud

Did you know about this? I didn't know about it until I read an AP article in the Contra Costa Times. Once it is out on the AP wire, it is going to gain some traction. Advertisers pay between $1 and $50 for each click they get on Google or Yahoo. But what if the clicks aren't real?

Click Fraud: the reality
Pay Per Click Analyst - Jan 19, 2005
Recently click fraud has been featured in the mainstream press, with an article in the January 24th edition of Newsweek and earlier articles on CNET

Communications News

Richard Dalton writes:

Werbach's an interesting guy. His Supernova 2005 conference should be considered by anyone interested in communications in the broadest sense. I just came across an article he authored for BusinessWeek/Online about the "digital back channel" (blogs, RSS feeds, etc.) and how it's affecting global communications.

Humor

The Top 16 Valentine's Day Romance Tips

I'm No. 9.

February 11, 2005

16> When taking her out to a romantic Valentine's Day dinner, be sure to carry her tray. For an extra touch, unwrap her straw, too.

15> Nothing says "I love you" quite like violating her restraining order.

14> Don't get their cards mixed up or you might end up having to have sex with your wife instead of your secretary.

13> If she suggests "trying something different," she means something that involves her.

12> Just because she loved the chocolate hearts last year does not mean she will love the chocolate spleens this year.

11> Suppress the diabolical laughter until after the restraints are buckled securely.

10> Wait at least eight years after your wife dies under suspicious circumstances before proposing to your long-time lover. (Prince Charles only)

9> A quick stop at the cemetery on the way home should save time and money and still produce a beautiful bouquet.

8> A gentleman takes a bite out of all of the chocolates so that his lady doesn't have to guess what each one contains.

7> Save the "keggerator" hat and belching the alphabet for Arbor Day.

6> An extra fiver will insure the video store guy puts a "Terminator" DVD in your "Thelma and Louise" box.

5> Phrases to avoid at dinner: "fully tax-deductible"; "violation of my parole"; "by decree of Lord Satan"; and "unpaid humor-list contributor."

4> If there's any chance whatsoever she might sleep with you, do the safe thing -- get rid of those "Star Wars" sheets.

3> When role-playing, do not suggest that she be the hot chick at work.

2> Start your date as late as possible to lessen the odds your true self will accidentally surface.

and Topfive.com's Number 1 Valentine's Day Romance Tip...

1> Your choice of gift tells a woman what you think about her. Roses, for example, say, "No chocolate for you, tubby!"

[ The Top 5 List www.topfive.com ]
[ Copyright 2005 by Chris White ]
=======================
Selected from 107 submissions from 37 contributors.
Today's Top 5 List authors are:
--------------------------------
Danny Gallagher, Tyler, TX -- 1, 4 (11th #1)
Paul Schindler, Orinda, CA -- 9

The Top 18 Signs Your Mechanic Is Losing It

A golden oldie. Apparently, I have been contributing to Top Five for 11 years, at least, and this was one of the rare (and increasingly rarer) No. 1s I scored. Of course, you can't win if you don't play, and lately teaching and taking continuing ed has sapped all my time. So, I bask in the weak reflected glory of a long-ago triumph...

July 13, 1994.

18> That photo of a naked A.J. Foyt on his wall.

17> You catch him in his office making auto noises and "shifting gears", if you know what I mean.

16> Replaces your fan belt with a pair of bikini underwear.

15> Embroidered "Mr. Bad-Ass Wrench" on his shirt.

14> Hose from air pump leads into his coveralls.

13> Keeps asking if you're sure you don't want a "lube job."

12> Still doing work for OJ and expecting to get paid.

11> Eats Go-Jo off finger as if it were peanut butter.

10> Giggles uncontrollably whenever anyone says, "lug nuts."

9> "Huh huh, he said 'dipstick.' Huh huh, huh huh."

8> Keeps asking you if you've seen that episode of Gilligan's Island where they almost get rescued, but Gilligan screws it up in the end.

7> Believes your Hyundai is possessed by the spirit of Kim Il Sung.

6> Replaces diagnostic computer with Magic 8 Ball.

5> Urinates on your tire and says, "Just marking my turf."

4> Rewires the cruise control to the radio so that the faster the music, the faster your car goes.

3> Owns no wrenches, but complete set of every size monkey.

2> Looks suspiciously like Joe Piscopo. Wait a minute -- He *IS* Joe Piscopo!

and the #1 Sign Your Mechanic Is Losing It...

1> Won't stop humming "The Wheels on the Bus Go 'Round And Round."

[ The Top 5 List www.topfive.com ]
[ Copyright 1994, 2005 by Chris White ]
==================
Selected from 135 submissions by 44 contributors.
Today's Top 5 List authors are:
-------------------------------------
Paul E. Schindler Jr., Orinda, CA - 1

Movies

None

Letters

Carroll Cat Column, Special Effects Insider, SuperBowl Commercials, Dan Grobstein File

Cat Column Alert: Jon Carroll has written yet another truly great cat column for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Singing in the rain: "The original updated".

Craig wrote about this last week; I found it utterly amazing. I asked how it was done:

My effects-industry-savvy friends think the Singing in the Rain spot was indeed "face replacement". It is getting to be a frequently used "gag" (as they say in the efx biz). There was an early example of face replacement in Jurassic Park (girl dangling down manhole above dino). It is easy to do badly and very hard to get Just Right. If you miss just a little, you fall into the Uncanny Valley.

Also, I wrote about my Second Favorite Super Bowl Commercial, which caused Craig to point out that the commercials are online.

Dan Grobstein File

  • One of those blogs that runs animal pictures on Friday.
  • Washington Monthly's Political Animal column on Social Security.
  • Daily Koss on 9/11.
  • Via andrewtobias.com. 2/18/05: regarding the "device" that dubya had under his jacket during the debate: Scott Mandel: "Re the President's odd 'I'm not finished' outburst - maybe this has something to do with the President's relationship with God." [Finally: a plausible alternative to the "he was wired" theory.]
  • Canadian PM Paul Martin speech on civil marriage act

New York Times

  • OPINION | February 17, 2005
    Op-Ed Columnist: Bush's Barberini Faun
    By MAUREEN DOWD
    The Bush administration is waging a jihad against journalists - buying them off so they'll promote administration programs, trying to put them in jail, and replacing them with ringers.

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